After introducing our dogs to the chickens, we built a small fence around the door to let them walk around a bit, and to give them some protection from our dogs. We had a few close calls, but our dogs got used to them and after a lot of training, they've been free roaming our yard for a few months with no problem...until about a month ago.
Sadly, the problem isn't the dogs, it's George (the rooster)! One morning, as I went to open the coop, I found aunty with a bloody comb. Once my mom came home for lunch, we caught her and brought her in our house to help her destress and check her over.
We let her out again after 15ish minutes, and everything seemed to be fine, she just fell ranks. She was the last one in the coop, per George's orders. Before that, she was the second and sometimes first one in.
My mom noticed George chasing her away from the flock, but she was fiesty and confident and didn't care. Up until a few weeks later when I found her away from the flock, squawking. She looked as though she was traumatized, walking without going anywhere, making these weird noises, her feathers all fluffed and some falling out...I honestly thought she was dying or had gone crazy. I tried to bring her back to the flock, but any time she saw George she would freak out, screaming and running away.
After doing some light research, we decided to put George in "prison".
We made a new coop for the chickens since we moved in, and that's where they've been staying. So we used the old coop to keep George in there for a while. He hated it, and I felt so bad. I was also stressed out during this time as I have found gartner snakes in my yard, as well as bigger birds circling above the yard. George always kept them safe, but while he was on lockdown I did the job.
After a few days I caved and we tried to let him out. Right away, Aunty (the hen he enjoys tormenting) was scared again. She had gone back to her confident, sassy self while he was on lockdown but as soon as we let him out she hid. I saw George chase her, try to hold her down, and try to rip out feathers and stab her with his claws. He wasn't mounting, I see him do that a lot with his favorite hen, but he was trying to kill. She was screaming and trying to run away. We caught him and put him back in jail.
Cut to yesterday, we let him out. He is fine with our new chicks, he doesn't care about them whatsoever. I also haven't seen him chase or hurt Aunty, in fact, they were together all yesterday. But today? She refuses to come to me if he is around. That's not normal behavior from her, she knows her name and has come to me when I called her while George was in jail. She won't even eat the berries I throw near her if she can see him! And her favorite food is berries.
What can I do if killing George is not an option, and if he is needed to protect his flock? Is there a way to make Aunty confident again? She's not sick, she's just terrified of him. When he is in jail, she hangs out with the other hens. When he is out, the other hens are not allowed near her per George's order.